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It looks like insurance aggregator Gocompare.com may once again have been hit with a Google penalty, as it is currently not ranking on the search engine's organic results for its own brand name.

A search on Google UK for 'Gocompare' returns only third party sites on the first page, and you have to go all the way down to page six of the search engine to find the official site.

This is similar for a search on 'car insurance', the term it was penalised on last year; you have to go all the way to page five to find the site's entry for this phrase.

I haven't seen it confirmed anywhere, but this carries all the signs of a Google penalty. Last January, both Gocompare and Kwik Fit were penalised for boosting their rankings with paid links and reviews.

Charity search engine Everyclick.com also suffered from a Google penalty at the end of last year, possibly for duplicate content, though the cause was never clear.

If this is a penalty, the cause is unclear so far, though there is speculation on this blog that Gocompare was attempting some link building tactics that may have contravened Google's rules.

Whatever the reasons, the consequences of such a sudden drop in the rankings in such a competitive market as insurance are serious, as Gocompare will know from last year. It's Google traffic dropped by 87% after the penalty, to the benefit of rival Confused.com.

Graham Charlton

Published 22 April, 2009 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

2565 more posts from this author

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Morgan

They launched a new site a couple of days ago, maybe Monday (?), so perhaps not quite as sinister as it appears.

over 7 years ago

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Morgan

@Ashley - Maybe it didn't happen to you, but that doesn't mean it hasn't happened to Gocompare. Although in terms of headlines I expect it wouldn't have quite the same impact...

over 7 years ago

James Wakeman

James Wakeman, Unsure

@Ashley - I was logged in when I did the search, but have disabled web history - and I was on Google.co.uk. This article seems to be on page 2 if you do a UK search, page 3 if you do whole web (not logged in on Google.co.uk).

Funnily enough when I clicked on your second search, an older article from this blog http://econsultancy.com/blog/2178-gocompare-feels-effects-of-google-penalty (dated 2008) was on page 2 - but this page was in there on page 3.

And if anyone can follow all that then good on them.

Tom

over 7 years ago

David Iwanow

David Iwanow, SEO Product Manager at Marktplaats.nl

I really dont see the big issue, based on what the email being sent contained, its fairly clear and transperant about the purpose of providing the site free content, should blogs such as Econsultancy be punished for providing a link back to their authors page...

if this is actual quality content, i think it should be encouraged, im not saying buying and selling links does not have risk, but if it is a swap for quality content that improves what is available to their site visitors, i think its was a good idea.

i know a number of companies who have internal seo departments that undertake this on a regular basis, serps should contain quality results and these activities help out small business owners who dont have time or resources to write quality content!

over 7 years ago

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Chee Lo, SEO Specialist at Trustpilot

Hello,

my first post on Econsultancy - interesting that GoCompare launched a new site, from the first post they do seem to have some penalty for their brandname but I dont believe its down to dubious tactics.

I think its more down to server side issues.

If anyone from GoCompare's seo agency is reading this post then fix your 404 server response codes.

See if that helps.

over 7 years ago

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Caroline

I was responsible for retrieving Everyclick.com from the Google penalty imposed on it last year and can say the cause was very clear, although it took me a little while to pin it down.

The problem is common for sites which pass parameters in their URL and consequently have a very large number of pages available. Such as commercial shopping sites and sites which serve up results pages from queries. To some extent has been helped by the launch of the canonical tag which the major search engines are now recognising. In other areas it's been helped by ensuring that no page is available for indexing unless it can be guaranteed that it contains unique content.

I understand Gocompare were looking to take on a full time SEO consultant a couple of months ago. I wonder if this is something they've done to the site? Feel free to get in touch!

over 7 years ago

David Iwanow

David Iwanow, SEO Product Manager at Marktplaats.nl

Haha, im just wondering if it was their IT team that kinda forgot about the redirecting the old site to the new site, and so many other things they could have done wrong with a new site.

I think if they have taken on a fulltime seo consultant and this is what has happened, they need to look at a quality seo agency...

Advice is if you have a seo consultant you can speak with run the new site by them before dumping the workload to play catchup, its often that developers cut corners when under pressure to get a site live.

over 7 years ago

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Caroline

Have discovered that gocompare have *not* taken on their SEO consultant - so this is what happens when you cut corners guys!

Unfortunately not all big, well known SEO agencies can help. The problem with Everyclick stemmed from the original plan and architecture of the new site, and that was when they had the advice of a professional agency.

over 7 years ago

David Iwanow

David Iwanow, SEO Product Manager at Marktplaats.nl

@caroline cant be always perfect, its often that i speak with clients and they say that was the advice they were given. 

When you drill further into the matter it was a mashup of several pieces of advice and a second guess to fill in the gaps... or the advice was 2-3 years old, what was ok back then as possible spam now just doesnt work.

If you cut corners picking a bad cms, not even the world's best can sometimes address the damage, sometimes its just best to start again.  Architecture often over complicates the process.

over 7 years ago

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Content Now LLP

NEWSFLASH

As of just before 10AM GMT this morning, GoCompare has begun to re-appear at #1 in the Google SERPs for its brand name. It appears to be ranking for some other terms as well. This isn’t totally consistent as yet because it takes a while to replicate around data centres so you may see it jump in and out of the results. Given that the drop in rankings for this site originally sparked this debate, I thought you would appreciate the update.

http://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=en&num=100&q=go+compare&btnG=Search&meta=cr%3DcountryUK|countryGB

Best regards - Simon :-)
Simon Snelling BSc(Hons) MBCS CEng CITP
Partner and Co-Founder
Content Now LLP

about 7 years ago

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